Lichtenbergianism: Pitch perfect

Today in our continuing book study of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP], we look at the pitch.

There are two kind of pitches: 1) the elevator pitch, which is over by the time the elevator gets to the next floor, and 2) your long-form pitch. [p.70]

I keep trying to come up with a snappy elevator pitch:

  • Art & Fear only funny”?
  • How to Write a Novel in 30 Days for slackers”?
  • Twilight, but well-written. And no vampires”?

Perhaps, as the authors1 also suggest, my subtitle is the elevator pitch: “procrastination as a creative strategy, or how I stopped worrying  and learned to love doing it wrong.”

“The Mouse Whose Name Is Time,” by Robert Francis—click to read the whole amazing poem

The long-form pitch is no less simple.  It’s supposed to be a paragraph or two, but still under a minute.

How about:

In 2007 a small group of creative amateurs founded a society dedicated to celebrating their procrastination and found, to their amazement, that their productivity improved. Now they share the secret of their success with nine “precepts,” ways to re-organize your thinking about how you create and why.  Sometimes counter-intuitive and usually amusing, their strategies distill some of the most obvious secrets of the creative process to free you from your own mindblocks.

Hm.  How about:

Sure, you can buy a book to help you cure your procrastination, but why would you? Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy frees you from the worry and the guilt—and shows you how to use your bad habits to become more productive in your creative life.  No matter whether you’re a writer, an artist, a composer, a programmer, a gardener, or any other creative type, the Nine Precepts of Lichtenbergianism will give you ways to rethink your creative habits and give yourself permission to succeed—by failing!

That’s better, and more in sync with the tone of the book.

Tomorrow is better!  That’s the motto of the Lichtenbergian Society, a group of creative men who bonded over their shared tendency to procrastinate and found that they became more productive because of it. Now Lichtenbergian chair Dale Lyles shows you how you, too, can stop worrying about your bad habits and learn to love your own creative process.  Whether you’re a frustrated writer, artist, composer, gardener, or programmer, you’ll find new ways to think about how you create and why, from Task Avoidance to Successive Approximation to Ritual to Abandonment—if you give yourself permission to fail, you give yourself permission to create.  It’s that simple!

One more:

Are you a creative genius?  No, only Mozart is a creative genius, and you are not him.  But you are creative—yes, you are, admit it—and you want to overcome your fears and your bad habits so that you can write that novel/paint that painting/compose that song/program that app.  Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy gives you nine Precepts, ways to restructure your thinking about how you create and why so that you can just get to work and create the work of your dreams. But not today.  Tomorrow is better.

And I’m spent.


1 I keep saying “the authors” because it’s easier than typing out their names: Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.

4 thoughts on “Lichtenbergianism: Pitch perfect

  1. Ya know, the more I think about it, I like more and more the idea of starting with an anecdote about Georg Christoph himself or with the notion that Lichtenberg achieved his “literary fame” somewhat ironically. After all, you call it Lichtenbergianism. People like those vivd NPR-ish sketches of obscure historical figures acting like their approachable coffee-house hipster acquaintances. You might even mention that one member suggested our motto be “What hump?” Funny coincidence regarding “elevator pitches.” I quipped on our Facebook page about a certain girl who tormented me in middle school and what might have become of her. I noted in my comment that it was also the “elevator pitch.” The elevator pitch should sneak up on you, as if it’s a very, very short story identified as a pitch only after the fact.: a vivid observation that also happens to work as the pitch. In fact, it should be the executive you speak to who opines that what you have just said should be a pitch. Then all you have to do is retort, “It is.”

  2. Yeah, all the fun facts to know and tell about Georg Christoph Lichtenberg will be a perfect time filler on Terry Gross, for sure!

  3. What sort of comments are you looking for? I plan to contact a creative man later today. I could suggest that he consider posting a comment, so he can remind me that’s the sort of thing one does later.

    My own comment drafted post-haste and without genuine LCT sensibilities: Nice design work. Beautiful post. Generous idea. Love the open stance that everyone could adopt the Lctnbgn approach and benefit from the collective’s counter-intuitive and anti-corporate strategies.

    Happy Birthday, and I thank you from the bottom of my damnable and duty-driven female psyche for the most invigorating and intellectually aligned evenings of my late mid-adulthood. You are the fire and the fire’s keeper. Keep on! Post on.

  4. MDJ, I’ll take any and all comments: preferences for any of the above versions, redrafted pitches, questions I’ve left unanswered—that last in particular haunts me: the “curse of knowledge” we call it in pedagogy, where your experience and expertise leave you blind to what everyone else does not know.

    You’re welcome for the fire!

    As for my “generosity,” I offer a short anecdote: When you enter one of the Georgia burns, you stop at the Gate to present your ticket, sign the waiver, and be welcomed “home” by the hippies. You are also gifted with a piece of “swag,” a pendant that has been designed and manufactured for the event. This past Euphoria, there was a choice of four different designs (in various colors), each a different brain chemical that represented a different “flavor” of burner and the role they played in creating our Temporary Autonomous Zone. Without reading the handout which explained all this, I chose the design for Catalyst—the one who sparks the transformation for others. That’s what my career has been, and that’s what I hope the book can be for a wider audience.

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